Spence Bay (Taloyoak)


69°32’N, 93°31’W. Elevation 26 m at the airstrip. 460 air km E of Cambridge Bay, 1 224 air km NE of Yellowknife, in the Kitikmeot Region. At the head of Spence Bay on the south coast of the Boothia Peninsula, at the Boothia Isthmus separating the peninsula and the mainland.


Steep cliffs on the east and west and a point of land that extends across the inlet create an inner and outer harbour. On boulder glacial till with scant vegetation.


Average annual precipitation: 6.5 cm rainfall, 103 cm snowfall, 18.1 cm total precipitation. July mean high 11.5 °C, low 3.2 °C. January mean high -29.7 °C, low -39.3 °C.


The original inhabitants of the Spence Bay area were Netsilik Inuit. John Ross wintered in the area from 1829-33. He named the peninsula after Felix Booth, a wealthy London distiller who financed his expedition. In 1934, the Hudson’s Bay Company began its Dundas Harbour relocation experiment, which was to result in a complex series of moves for Inuit from as far away as Cape Dorset which led eventually to the present community of Spence Bay. Today Spence Bay residents continue to trap and assist in a commercial char fishery in co-operation with other Central Arctic communities. The settlement has become well-known for its unusual carvings and woven handicrafts.


  • Population, June 1981, 431; June 1985, 452; 1986 Census, 540; June 1988 GNWT estimate, 540; 1991 Census, 580
  • 1986 sex distribution: 50% male, 50% female
  • 1986 age distribution: 0-4, 15%; 5-14, 22%; 15-64, 61%; 65+, 2%
  • 1987 ethnic distribution: 92% Inuit, 2% Dene, 0% Metis, 6% non-native
  • Languages spoken: Inuktitut, English

Political Organization

  • Hamlet status, April 1, 1981
  • Mayor: Dennis Lyall
  • Senior Administrative Officer: Don Pickle
  • Hamlet Office: (403) 561-6341; fax (403) 561-5057
  • MLA: John Ningark (Natilikmiot)


Major Activities -- Carving/handicrafts; commercial fishing, trapping, hunting

Banks -- none. Co-ops -- Paleajook Eskimo Co-operative Limited. Spence Bay Co-operative Association.

Renewable Resources --
Fish: Arctic Char, Lake Trout, Whitefish;
Marine mammals: Ringed Seal, Harbour Seal, Bearded Seal, Beluga, Narwhal;
Game: Caribou, Wolf, Fox, Polar Bear, Muskox; Quotas: Caribou, 60; Muskox, 10; Polar Bear 22-27
Total Number of Trappers (1987-88): 79
Total Dollars Earned: $46 100
Natural Resources Officers: Joe Ashevak, Joe Kuneyuna

Non-renewable Resources -- Minerals: borders low uranium potential area

Tourism -- Arts and crafts: garments and unusual toys made form or embroidered with wool colored from dyes made from local plants and lichens, carvings. Boothia Tours, snowmobile tours during winter and spring, boat tours during the summer.

Prices and Income -- Private Households Average Income, 1985: $28 809. Food prices, 1987: 96% higher than Yellowknife.

Local Businesses -- In addition to those listed above: Trades contractors, taxis, general retail, food.


Air (Take-offs and landings, 1988: 871)
Airport Operator: Hamlet of Spence Bay (GNWT)
Airport facilities: Licensed 1100 m x 30 m gravel runway, taxiway and apron; Airfield lighting consisting of runway edge, threshold, end and identification lights, VASIS, rotating beacon, lighted wind socks, taxi/apron edge lights and apron floodlights; Navaid - NDB, Air terminal building.
Services: Community Airport Radio Station (CARS) - Weather/Communications, Scheduled airfield maintenance.
Scheduled Service: First Air via Yellowknife/Iqaluit

Trucking services: Lyall’s Taxi and Cartage, local. Bus/taxi

Barge service; operator, NTCL from Hay River, July run only


  • Postal code: X0E 1B0. Mail three times a week
  • Telephone: NorthwesTel (Anik), local and long distance
  • Radio: CBC Radio (Anik), community radio
  • Television: CBC Television

Medical/Social Services

  • Community Health Centre: four beds, two bassinets, two cribs
  • Medical staff: Five person
  • Social Services Facilities: two person Community Social Services Office. Community-based social services and projects: Alcohol and Drug Education Committee, Alcohol Drop-In Centre, Youth Justice Committee


  • School: Netsilik, K-9; Student Enrolment (1988-89): 133; Teachers: 8; Local Education Authority: Spence Bay Education Society
  • Vocational and Continuing Education: adult education centre, one resident adult educator

Housing and Accommodation

  • NWT Housing Corporation units (1989): 87
  • HAP housing allocations 1980-89: 3
  • GNWT staff housing units: 17 houses
  • Commercial accommodation: Paleajook Hotel, accommodates 19, shared bath, meals, TV radio

Recreation and Culture

Community hall. Gymnasium. Playfield, playground. Youth Center. Community library. Easter Games. Active Recreation Committee